Last week I posted a link to an article about the resurgence of D&D. Summing up, the story took the position that D&D (along with other RPGs) was making a “comeback”, being rediscovered by a whole generation of once-upon-a-time gamers.
Now the thought of gamers coming back to the nerd-fold does put a certain spring in my step. And while I have no definite numbers (and neither did the article in question), I do have a decent amount of anecdotal evidence that a good many ex-gamers are rekindling their geek-flame. But I do take some umbrage to the idea that RPGs needed to make a comeback or that they went away somehow. I’ve been a gamer for 30+ years, and from where I sit role-playing games have never been very far away; certainly they’ve never travelled so far they had to make a return trip.
But perhaps we did go away, as Obi Wan says, “…from a certain point of view.” And the point of view in question would be that of the mainstream. I am steeped enough in the lore and history of the hobby to recall a time when RPGs were very much in an angry public eye. I remember discussions with my parents after yet another article or news story broke about the “dangers of D&D” or “satanistic role-players” or “baby-eating LARPers”…okay, maybe that last one isn’t true. But it is no secret that D&D and RPGs in general endured a period of mainstream distrust and disdain. It is also no secret that as time passed so did the public outcry. And when there was nothing to yell about, RPGs just sort of fell from the mainstream view, replaced by the next Big Outcry (something called “vee-d-o games”, I think).
But while the mainstream forgot about us, we thrived as a hobby. Oh, there were ups and downs, certainly. If you were in the gaming retail business during the 90’s as I was, you had an inkling that not everything was wine and roses, or even Mountain Dew and Cheezies. But gaming kept on, hiccups and all, and we kept playing the games we loved. And then the new editions of games we loved. And then the offshoot games sprung from the loins of the games we loved.
But the point is we never went away, non-gamers just weren’t looking. And so we were poised to unobtrusively regain the mainstream attention we had been missing ( I don’t use “been missing” to suggest we craved it, just to indicate that it had been absent). And this time the mainstream’s regard was favourable. So favourable in fact, I have to work pretty hard not to find a reference, however oblique, to gaming in the shows I love. Castle, Big Bang Theory, Human Target, Chuck, Nikita…okay, those are no-brainers when it comes to being geek-referential. But how about shows like The Chicago Code? Or Hawaii 5-0? Or NCIS and NCIS Los Angeles? Mike and Molly? Two-and-a-Half Men? I could keep going, but it is anecdotal-y clear: gaming has infiltrated the mainstream and it doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.
So I can understand why the mainstream suffered the illusion of absence, even if I didn’t suffer along with it. And I suppose I could get all angry and militant about the “slighting of the hobby”, or some such nonsense. But honestly? I’m happy to see more gamers, whatever the reason. Who cares if they are rediscovering us, or if they think they’ve “revived” something that wasn’t really dead. More gamers are a good thing, and I for one look forward to meeting many of them, lapsed or newb, at the gaming table.
Because at the gaming table we are all made equal. Unless you use cheat dice, which just makes you a dick.
More links than a sausage factory (if said factory only made, like, four sausages or something):
– a thank-you to Liana K for pointing this out: A letter from Joanne Siegel to Time Warner, written shortly before her passing on February 12. Very rarely have I read anything so passionate, yet reasonable in its tone. And it makes me want to punch TW in its dumb corporate face.
– I am a huge fan of the Whoniverse, including Torchwood. So imagine my joy at the news that Torchwood is coming back. I am uncertain of the casting of Bill Pullman, but am intrigued to see him play a villain…
– So if Torchwood floats my boat, the new season of Doctor Who is the big twin-diesel engine that makes that boat go, go, go! But at 16 seconds the teaser is more of a taunt.
– Definitely NSFW most days, Chimneyspeak is a gritty, bloody webcomic of sex and revenge. Makes me long for a good game of “Cthulhu by Gaslight”.
That is all, meinen geekenfreundin. Until next we meet, may your dice roll smooth and straight.